Books

The CBC Books summer reading list: 33 books to check out this season

Summer is here! It's the perfect season to read a good book. We have 33 suggestions for you, from Canada and around the world, from YA to fiction to poetry to comics. There's something for everyone on this list.

Summer is here! It's the perfect season to read a good book. We have 33 suggestions for you, from Canada and around the world, from YA to fiction to poetry to comics. There's something for everyone on this list.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High is a YA novel by Elizabeth Acevedo. (Harper Teen, http://www.acevedowrites.com)

Elizabeth Acevedo's second novel, With the Fire on High, is about a young woman named Emoni Santiago. Emoni got pregnant as a freshman in high school and dreams of being a chef. Most people have dismissed her, but she's determined to raise her daughter, Babygirl, the best she can. When her high school offers a cooking class, Emoni sees it as an opportunity to follow her dreams while still being there for her daughter. With the Fire on High is a well-written and moving story.

Elizabeth Acevedo won the 2019 Carnegie Medal for her debut book The Poet X.

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Love from A to Z is a YA novel by S.K. Ali. (Andrea Stenson, Simon & Schuster)

When Zayneb gets suspended for standing up to a xenophobic teacher, she's sent to her aunt's house in Doha, Qatar for an early spring break. She ends up meeting Adam, a teenager trying to hide his multiple sclerosis diagnosis from his grieving father. 

Love from A to Z, a YA novel, is S.K. Ali's second book, following Saints and Misfits.

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus

Raymond Antrobus is a British-Jamaican poet. (Tenee Attoh, Penned in the Margins)

British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus's new collection, The Perseverance, explores his Jamaican heritage, his complicated relationship with his late father and his experience growing up deaf ― a diagnosis he received when he was six years old.  

The Perseverance is the first book of poetry ever to win the U.K.'s prestigious Rathbones Folio Prize and was a finalist for the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Bunny by Mona Awad

Bunny is a novel by Mona Awad. (Hamish Hamilton, Brigitte Lacombe)

Scholarship student Samantha Heather Mackey feels like an outsider at her elite university, especially when it comes to her fiction writing class. That's where she first encounters the Bunnies, a comically tight-knit group of annoying rich girls who invite Samantha to their exclusive "Smut Salon." Against her better judgment, Samantha is drawn into the Bunnies' orbit.

Mona Award's previous novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

When I Arrived at the Castle is a comic by Emily Carroll. (Koyama Press)

A young woman determinedly makes her way to the Countess's castle, where many have gone but never returned. When I Arrived at the Castle is a gothic horror comic from Stratford, Ont.-based artist Emily Carroll, whose first two books Through the Woods, a collection of horror comics, and Speak, an adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson's YA novel, were published to critical acclaim.

Leaving Richard's Valley by Michael DeForge

Leaving Richard's Valley is a comic by Michael DeForge. (Matthew James-Wilson, Drawn & Quarterly)

Toronto artist Michael DeForge collects his Instagram comic Leaving Richard's Valley in book form, following the fates of Omar the Spider, Neville the Dog and Ellie Squirrel as they risk the wrath of a beloved but tyrannical leader in order to save their friend, Lyle the Raccoon. When exposed, the three friends are kicked out of the only home they've ever known and make their way to the big city for a fresh start. 

Leaving Richard's Valley won the Slate Book Review and Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies's Cartoonist Studio Prize for best web comic in 2018. 

We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib

We Have Always Been Here is a memoir by Samra Habib. (Viking Canada, Yuula Benivolski)

Samra Habib's memoir We Have Always Been Here is an exploration of the ways we disguise and minimize ourselves for the sake of survival. As a child, Habib hid her faith from Islamic extremists in Pakistan and later, as a refugee in Canada, endured racist bullying, but later came into her own as a proud queer Muslim woman. In travelling the world and exploring art and sexuality, Habib searches for the truth of her identity. We Have Always Been Here is Habib's first book.

Searching for Terry Punchout by Tyler Hellard

Searching for Terry Punchout is a novel by Tyler Hellard. (Monique St. Croix, Invisible Publishing)

This debut novel from Calgary writer Tyler Hellard follows a struggling sportswriter who travels to a small maritime town to interview his estranged father — a reclusive and notorious hockey player — as a last-ditch effort to save his career. 

Searching for Terry Punchout was a finalist for the 2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

The Chai Factor by Farah Heron

The Chai Factor is a novel by Farah Heron. (HarperCollins Canada)

In The Chai Factor, Farah Heron's debut novel, Amira Khan is dedicated to her career and finishing grad school. But when her grandmother rents out the family's basement apartment to a barbershop quartet, Amira can't focus. And when she begins to clash with the group's leader, Duncan, things only get worse. The Chai Factor is a romantic comedy about opposites colliding and how little inconveniences can become life-changing if you open up. 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a novel by Marlon James. (Bond Street Books, Jeffrey Skemp)

Tracker, a well-respected hunter who always works alone, is hired to find a boy who has been missing for three years. He ends up joining a band of unusual characters, including a 'shape-shifting man-animal' called Leopard, all engaged in the hunt. As they traverse ancient cities and forests and face deadly beasts, Tracker wonders why this boy is so special and finds himself caught in a web of lies.

Marlon James previously won the Man Booker Prize for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings.

Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones

Every Little Piece of Me is a novel by Amy Jones. (Ali Eisner, McClelland & Stewart)

Every Little Piece of Me revolves around the friendship of two women, Ava and Mags, whose every humiliation is tabloid fodder. Ava grew up on a hit reality television show where her big city family runs a small town B&B. Mags is the lead singer of a troubled Halifax rock band. Every Little Piece of Me is Amy Jones's sophomore novel, following the national bestseller We're All in This Together

Jones won the 2006 CBC Short Story Prize.

We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla

We All Fall Down is the tenth novel by writer and doctor Daniel Kalla. (Simon & Schuster)

Daniel Kalla is an emergency room doctor based in Vancouver and the international bestselling author of 10 books. His latest, We All Fall Down, is a thriller about the black death. Set both in the past and present, Kalla explores the plague caused in the medieval period, and how its effects would be felt if it were to break out today.

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

A Brightness Long Ago is a novel by Guy Gavriel Kay. (CBC)

As the son of a humble tailor, Danio Cerra rose through the ranks of society with his incredible intelligence. He's unhappily employed at the court of a count whose nickname is 'the Beast,' but fate throws him a bone in the form of Adria Ripoli, an assassin who traded her family's wealth for freedom. 

Guy Gavriel Kay is a bestselling sci-fi and fantasy novelist, whose work includes Tigana and Children of Earth and Sky.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali is a YA novel by Sabina Khan. (sabina-khan.com, Scholastic)

Rukhsana Ali is 17 and balancing the expectations of her conservative Muslim parents with her desire to wear crop tops and date girls. When Rukhsana is caught kissing her girlfriend Ariana, she is sent to Bangladesh where she discovers her grandmother's old diary and is inspired to stand up for herself to her family. 

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is B.C. writer Sabina Khan's first novel.

A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A Deadly Divide is a novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan. (Alan Klehr, Raincoast Books)

Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are sent to Quebec where a community is reeling in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a mosque. Fuelling tensions is the arrest of a young Muslim man who was reported to be assisting the wounded, while a priest found holding a weapon was let go. 

A Deadly Divide is the fifth book in Ausma Zehanat Khan's Getty and Khattak mystery series.

Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson

Autopsy of a Boring Wife is by author Marie-Renée Lavoie and translated by Arielle Aaronson. (Martine Doyon, House Of Anansi Press)

Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie is an unexpectedly funny story about a woman named Diane whose husband of 25 years says she's too boring to stay with, so he leaves her for a younger woman. Diane dreams up ways to get her husband back, torture his new girlfriend and move on with the support of her best friend and three children. 

Autopsy of a Boring Wife was translated from French by Arielle Aaronson.

The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper

The Homecoming is a novel by Andrew Pyper. (Simon & Schuster Canada, Heidi Pyper)

When the Quinlan family gathers at a vast rainforest property for the reading of their patriarch's will, they discover that in order to receive their inheritance, they must isolate themselves at the estate for 30 days. In the month that follows, chilling family secrets emerge about their father's true intentions. 

Andrew Pyper is a bestselling horror writer, whose books include The Only ChildThe Demonologist and The Killing Circle.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm is a novel by Joanne Ramos. (Doubleday Canada, https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk)

In this dystopian novel, women are paid to stay at a luxury retreat with daily massages, personal trainers and organic meals. The catch is that for nine months they are not allowed to leave and must be cut off from their former lives while they produce a baby for someone else. When a woman named Jane arrives at The Farm to be a host, she is desperate to reconnect with her life on the outside. 

Twitch Force by Michael Redhill

Michael Redhill is an writer from Toronto. (House of Anansi Press, Amanda Withers)

Michael Redhill — who won the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Bellevue Square — returns to his roots as a poet. Twitch Force marks his first collection of poetry in 18 years and brings together poems grounded in the satirical and profound. Redhill looks at topics such as the family construct, the nature of beauty, love, loss and despair.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of Daisy Jones & The Six. (Doubleday Canada)

Told in a series of transcribed interviews, Daisy Jones & The Six tells the story of a legendary 1970s rock group that mysteriously broke up at the height of their fame. The two central characters of the book are Billy Dunne, the leader of The Six who has a drug problem, and Daisy Jones, a singer with a soulful voice and a gift for songwriting. Daisy Jones and The Six make it big together, but a power struggle over creative control creates tension in the group.

Film and television rights for Daisy Jones & The Six have been acquired by Reese Witherspoon, who is producing a 13-episode adaptation for Amazon.

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Frying Plantain is a short story collection by Zalika Reid-Benta. (House of Anansi Press)

Frying Plantain follows Kara Davis through elementary school to her high school graduation, as she comes of age while being perennially caught between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage. Over a series of 12 stories, Davis visits her great aunt in Jamaica, endures a cruel prank by close friends and deals with her stubborn grandparents. Frying Plantain is Zalika Reid-Benta's first book.

Your Life is Mine by Nathan Ripley

Your Life is Mine is a novel by Nathan Ripley. (Simon & Schuster)

Your Life is Mine is a page-turning thriller about Blanche, the daughter of a notorious murderer and cult leader. Her father killed himself after a shooting spree more than 20 years ago, but when Blanche learns her mother was murdered, she must return home and learns there's more to her family's story than she could have ever imagined — and that the cult her father founded might be making a comeback.

Your Life is Mine is the second thriller from Nathan Ripley, who is also the author of Find You in the Dark.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney's second novel is Normal People. (Knopf Canada, Jonny L. Davies)

Normal People follows the lives of Connell Waldron, a popular football star from a poor family, and Marianne Sheridan, a teenage outcast from a wealthy background. Despite being opposites in many ways, Connell and Marianne form a lifelong friendship, straying in and out of romance along the way.

Irish writer Sally Rooney's sophomore novel won the 2018 Costa Novel Award and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

The Youth of God by Hassan Ghedi Santur

The Youth of God is a novel by Hassan Ghedi Santur. (Mawenzi House)

The Youth of God follows Nuur, a smart and gifted 17-year-old boy living in a Somali neighborhood in Toronto. Two adults, a Muslim imam and a dedicated teacher, are both trying to influence him and shape his future. 

Hassan Ghedi Santur is a journalist who has worked for CBC Radio. He is also the author of the novels Something Remains and the nonfiction book Maps of Exile.

Bina: A Novel in Warnings by Anakana Schofield

Bina is a novel by Anakana Schofield. (Arabella Campbell, Knopf Canada)

Bina is an experimental novel that follows the title character, a 74-year-old Irish woman who is part of an underground group that helps people to die on their own terms. However, when her best friend Phil wishes to die, Bina is reluctant to help. Written in brief fragments, Bina explores female friendships, love and death through darkness and humour.

Anakana Schofield is the author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Martin John and Amazon.ca First Novel Award winner Malarky.

This One Looks Like a Boy by Lorimer Shenher

This One Looks Like a Boy is a memoir by Lorimer Shenher. (Greystone Books, Jennifer Fell)

From childhood, Lorimer Shenher knew he was a boy, though he was being raised as a girl. In This One Looks Like a Boy, Shenher tells his story of struggling with gender dysphoria before finally coming to accept he is trans and undergoing surgery in his 50s. Shenher is also the author of the book That Lonely Section of Hell, in which he describes his experiences working on the case of serial killer Robert Pickton.

26 Knots by Bindu Suresh

26 Knots is a novel by Bindu Suresh. (Invisible Publishing)

26 Knots weaves a complicated love story: Araceli falls for a fellow journalist named Adrien, who is already in love with Pénélope, who can't decide between him and Gabriel, who is too traumatized by his father's abandonment to be a good partner.

26 Knots is Montreal pediatrician Bindu Suresh's debut novel.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki

Mariko Tamaki is the author of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me. The book is illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. (Shawnee Custalow, House of Anansi Press)

This YA graphic novel is about a teenage girl named Freddy who can't seem to quit her girlfriend, the popular, enigmatic Laura Dean. Though they keep breaking up and getting back together, Freddy frets over whether to forgive Laura's many indiscretions — all the while taking her friendships for granted.

Mariko Tamaki is an award-winning Canadian comics writer, contributing to Marvel and DC Comics, based in Oakland, California.

Cluster by Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa is an award-winning poet based in Toronto. (Jennifer Rowsom, McClelland & Stewart)

Souvankham Thammavongsa is an award-winning poet whose collections include the Trillium Book Award winner Light and ReLit Award winner Small ArgumentsCluster is her fourth book. It collects a wide-ranging group of ruminations on nature, family and politics written in Thammavongsa's celebrated minimalist style.

Moccasin Square Gardens by Richard Van Camp

Moccasin Square Gardens is a short story collection by Richard Van Camp. (Douglas & McIntyre, Laughing Dog Photography)

Moccasin Square Gardens is a collection of humorous short fiction set in Denendeh, the land of the people north of the 60th parallel. Richard Van Camp's stories involve extraterrestrials, illegal wrestling moves and the legendary Wheetago, human-eating monsters who have come to punish the greed of humanity. 

Van Camp is a prolific novelist, comic writer and children's book writer whose work includes The Lesser BlessedA Blanket of Butterflies and Little You.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a novel by poet Ocean Vuong. (Tom Hines, Penguin Press)

In On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeousa man in his late 20s writes a moving, history-spanning letter to his mother, who is illiterate. The narrator, Little Dog, looks back on his ancestors in Vietnam and examines how his family history has shaped him and the secrets he bears. Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet whose book Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award and others. 

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is Vuong's first novel.

A Good Wife by Samra Zafar, with Meg Masters

Samra Zafar is the author of A Good Wife. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

When Samra Zafar was 15 years old, she was told by her mother that a great match had been found, and she was to be married — to a man who lived in Canada and was 11 years older than her. Despite having her own dreams and goals, Zafar got married, moved to a new country and started a family. But when her relationship became abusive, Zafar knew she must leave and build a new life for her children. Zafar has written about her experience in the book A Good Wife.

This Place: 150 Years Retold

This Place is an anthology of comics featuring Indigenous creators. (Logan Perley/CBC)

This Place is an anthology of comics featuring the work of Indigenous creators as they retell the history of Canada of the past 150 years. Elements of fantasy and magical realism are incorporated throughout the book, telling the stories of characters like Jack Fiddler, an Anishinaabe shaman facing murder charges, and Rosie, an Inuk girl growing up during the Second World War. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.